KUALA LUMPUR: Defence and agriculture agreements are expected to be inked during French president François Hollande's first state visit to Malaysia, which begins tomorrow.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said topics of discussion that will be highlighted with President Hollande during the state visit, include cooperation in defence, counter terrorism and trade.
"There will be the signing of an agreement in the field of defence, and another agreement to establish a platform for 'Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes in Southeast Asia.
"Both leaders (Hollande and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak) will also discuss existing cooperation between Malaysia and France, as well as explore potential avenues for the future," he told a press conference at the Parliament building today.
Hollande's visit, the second presidential-level visit from France to Malaysia after President Jacques Chirac's state visit in July 2003, also coincides with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and France.
Hollande is scheduled to arrive this evening, with the state welcome to be carried out at the Parliament Square tomorrow morning.
Hollande will be received by Najib at the latter's office in Putrajaya, followed by a delegation meeting.
Both leaders are then scheduled to witness the signing of the two agreements, after which Hollande will proceed to the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang to witness a static demonstration of the newly-arrived French-made Airbus A400M transporter aircraft.
Hollande will have an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V in the evening, followed by a state banquet.
Reezal said relations between both countries are strong, covering a broad range of areas, namely defence, trade, investment, education and culture.
"The recent arrival of the A400M transporter aircraft is significant as Malaysia is the first non-NATO country to be equipped with the aircraft.
"This reflects the strength of our bilateral relations," he said.
France is Malaysia's fourth largest trading partner within the European Union countries, with trade between the two countries seeing an increase of 6.3 per cent in 2016 from the previous year's, and now stands at RM15.23 billion. - Additional reporting by ESTHER LANDAU